Investigating prosecutors in The Netherlands are currently determining whether elderly Therese Dusabe, the mother of opposition politician Victoire Ingabire Umuboza, was involved in the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.
Her father Gakumba Pascal, also died before he could clear his name on allegations he also took part in the genocide against Tutsis in Kibirira Commune both in 1990 and 1994. This commune was part of Gisenyi Prefecture, and is the present day Gatumba Sector of Ngororero District in rural western Rwanda.
Ten years later, since her arrest, prosecution and jailing, Ingabire Victoire Umuhoza has decided to address the issues surrounding her parents. In the past week, like all previous years, Ingabire is subject of a viscous media campaign in government-leaning media, accusing her of genocide ideology and negating the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi. She has vehemently denied the smear campaign.
In a rare interview on Friday, Ingabire says government prosecutors in her case may have compiled evidence which they had not read. Surprisingly, during her prosecution in 2010 and following years, government prosecutors presented genocide dossiers of her parents as part of efforts to prove she had genocide ideology borne from her family.
To understand the triangle of genocide cases on Ingabire and her parents, you need to go back to what happened to Ingabire herself. In December 2013, the Supreme Court upheld Ingabire’s conviction by lower courts, and actually increased sentence from 8, to 15 years in jail.
Ingabire was found guilty of threatening state security and “belittling” the 1994 genocide. The Supreme Court also found her guilty of spreading rumours intended to incite people to revolt – charges on which she had earlier been cleared.
In its explanation, the Supreme Court ruled that Ingabire should be serving a 27-year sentence for her crimes, but it had been decided to show her leniency, giving her 15 years, because her family was based in the Netherlands and that this was her first conviction.
Now, during the three years of prosecution, from arrest in April 2010, months before the presidential polls, Ingabire was presented with dossiers by Prosecutor General Martin Ngoga which showed her parents were involved in the genocide. Today, Ngoga is the Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly, based in Arusha, Tanzania.
Fast forward, Ingabire was later pardoned by President Kagame in September 2018, seven years short of her full conviction. Since then, Ingabire has formed a new political organization DALFA Umurinzi, yet to be registered. But with her political activities, has come a virulent media campaign targeting her.
The common theme in the media dirt about Ingabire is that because she was born to parents with history of genocide ideology, she is simply continuing the family legacy.
In the latest interview, Ingabire says she is speaking out for the first time about her parents because she recently had encounter with young genocide survivors who had been hurt by the ongoing campaign against her. Ingabire claims that genocide survivors have often written letters to her asking about the genocide denial allegations against her.
First, in the interview, Ingabire speaks about her father Gakumba Pascal. Immediately, the RPF had liberated Rwanda in late July, he was appointed Bourgemester (mayor) of Kibirira Commune.
Gakumba was put on list of senior politicians who were to be Deputies in the first post-1994 Parliament which was composed in 1996. However, 3 days to swearing, he was arrested on accusations of taking part in the massacre of Tutsis in 1990, and the 1994 genocide in Kibirira where he lived.
According to official narrations compiled by the National Commission against the Genocide (CNLG), Kibirira commune is where the genocide against Tutsis was trialled in late October 1990 just after the RPF rebels had launched armed rebellion on October 1. It is where, says the official narrative based on testimonies from survivors, that Tutsis were targeted until nearly all were exterminated.
The remaining Tutsis, about 100 of them, abandoned their homes and camped inside the local Catholic Parish up until 1994 when the RPF, led by General Paul Kagame, current President, liberated Rwanda.
In affidavits submitted by prosecution in Ingabire’s charge of genocide ideology, locals in Kibirira commune including genocide survivors said they only remember Gakumba (Ingabire’s father) as a politician since long before the genocide. Ingabire has these documents because they were shared with her lawyers.
The documents have shocking information. Prosecution admits in the dossier that they failed to find anyone who saw Ingabire’s father involved in the massacre of Tutsi, whether in 1990 or 1994. This particular dossier was prepared by Prosecution investigator, Mwiseneza Emmanuel.
Gakumba was in jail for four years up to 2000. Probe done by the Local Government Ministry, in a dossier signed by Niwerukundo Claude, chief of security division in the Ministry, found he was innocent. He was immediately released.
According to Ingabire, her father was arrested many times during reign of President Juvenal Habyarimana, including being jailed on allegation of links to RPF in what were called “ibyitso” (or “accomplices”). Thousands of people, both Tutsis and Hutus, suffered this fate. Many were killed.
“Actually, when I was imprisoned in the ‘1930’ prison, it reminded me of the period 1985 when I went to visit my father in same prison. It is as though I was walking in his footsteps,” says Ingabire in the interview.
Ingabire says, amid laughter, that she doubts the prosecutors read the documents they were presenting in court to incriminate her on charge of genocide ideology. The dossiers clearly have official government stamps and logos.
Ingabire said: “These documents from local government ministry were brought by Prosecution as part of building the genocide ideology charge against me. I doubt they ever read those documents. If they had, they wouldn’t have attached them because they actually exonerated my father.”
“The reason my father was arrested and framed as having been involved in the genocide, was to prevent him from going to parliament. The charges were fabricated and couldn’t be presented before any court, that’s why he had to be freed,” she says.
The same local government dossier confirms Ingabire’s father was detained to prevent him appearing on list of MPs in 1996. Basically, some of these documents which Prosector General Ngoga and his team of prosecutors, used in Ingabire’s case, were undermining their case against her.
Said Ingabire in interview: “Actually, when I was arrested [in 2010], I told the Prosecutor that ‘just as my father was arrested to prevent him from going to Parliament, you are doing the same to me so that I do not appear on presidential elections ballot’….”
Ingabire’s father was freed in 2000, and died in 2006. She says she has not been able to find details of what happened.
When it came to speaking about her mother Therese Dusabe, Ingabire declined to speak in detail, saying the case is before the courts in The Netherlands.
She said: “I will not speak about my mother’s case because I may give hints to those people whose job is ‘gutekinika’ (fabricating evidence). My mother’s dossier is laughable and painful, just like the one against my father.”
“The people who prepare these fraudulent dossiers do not do so because they are incompetent. They do them with a deliberate agenda to achieve something. The problem though, is that these dossiers come back to haunt them and undermine the image of our country.”
Prosecution also presented dossier to Ingabire in which they show her mother had been involved in the massacre of Tutsi in Butamwa commune, now Magerarere sector in Nyarugenge district, a rural part of Kigali.
Prosecution claims Ingabire’s mother took part in the killing of Gateneri Gerald and Tutsi babies at the Butamwa health center where she had worked as midwife for many years. Today, it is Mageragere health center. Gateneri was a headteacher in the area, and was even Ingabire’s teacher during her primary school.
In addition, prosecution sent another dossier to The Netherlands in 2013, same year Ingabire was sentenced by the Supreme Court, which claimed that Ingabire’s mother had role in killing of a woman called Ingabire from Butamwa health center during the 1994 genocide.
“I can affirm with absolute certainty that no single mother was killed in that health center during the time they claim the killings took place. None!. All the allegations being peddled are total lies,” said Ingabire.
Ingabire says the details as to what exactly happened, and who was involved in killing of Gateneri and the woman allegedly killed by the mother of Ingabire, have been submitted to Dutch authorities in ongoing probe about her mother.
“From today, I would like to clear the air around all these allegations, including that my mother ripped children out of women’s wombs. Those lies must stop today because they never happened.”
“I have kept quiet about these lies for a longtime because my belief was they would eventually die away. However, recently I met ‘abana b’abacikacumu’ (young genocide survivors) who were at pains to know what was all about these things said about my parents.”
Elderly Therese Dusabe today lives in Zevenhuizen, a town located in South of The Netherlands. She has for years been a regular at anti-government of Rwanda protests there. Dusabe had four children including Ingabire.
For Ingabire herself, during the genocide 1994, she was not in Rwanda. By the time she travelled to Rwanda in early 2010 to contest in the presidential polls, Ingabire was happily married to Lin Muyizere with whom they had three children. There are also cases in Rwanda against Muyizere.
On January 16, 2010 is when Ingabire’s flight landed at the Kigali International Airport. She went straight to the Gisozi genocide memorial site where more than 250,000 genocide victims are laid to rest. There, she questioned staff in full glare of media, why there were only remains of Tutsis, yet Hutus were also killed.
That day opened the Can of her current problems, which have haunted her ever since.